Do you Believe a Man can effectively pastor a church and reach a community while living a significant distance from the church?

Yes, if he lives within 20 minutes or less
29% (5 votes)
Yes, if he lives within 30 minutes or less
24% (4 votes)
Yes; distance is not really an issue
29% (5 votes)
No
18% (3 votes)
Total votes: 17
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There are 44 Comments

Paul Kovach's picture

As I travel from church to church I have noticed a trend in pastors who live a significant distance from their church. Some concerns I have developed in seeing this and the resulting church is whether a pastor can effectively be a pastor of a church from a distance such as 30 minuets or so? Further, can that pastor effectively reach the community of that church, ie, visitation, door-knocking? I know that there is the mater of personal stick-to-it that needs to be factored in to where it is not so much a matter of "can" it be done, but rather do you believe that it would be done. What are your thought and opinions?

Paul Kovach Missionary to BRAZIL http://www.kovachministries.com

rogercarlson's picture

Hey Brother,

I am voting 20 min or less....but I think it really depends on the area. You know my town...I dont think I could live that far and be effective at all. But in a suburb/urban environment i think that could be fine. But as you know, I am a firm believer of a pastor being a part of the community in which he lives. That can only be in with being close in proximity (relatively speaking)

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

Jim's picture

  • Get a map ....
  • Put it on a bulletin board ...
  • Pin the location of every member family (who attends!)
  • Draw a circle around the outer pin
  • Best for Pastor to live within that circle

If he is new and hasn't sold his former house .... be understanding

Jack's picture

I'd think that what is best depends on the particulars. In a less urban area, 20 minutes away may be standard. For a church like mine in DC or 10th Pres in center city Philadelphia, I think the pastor is going to want to be much closer. Most of our pastors live across the parking lot from the church. One lives caddie-corner across an intersection. One poor man commutes in from almost a full block away. Most staff live very close as well, though I think a few from time to time live outside the church's Capitol Hill neighborhood location.

Rob Fall's picture

I wish the poll had an "other" choice. I live within 14 miles of HSBC. However, that's at least a 30 min. commute. Urban churches (especially those with a metro demographic) have different outlooks on various issues of "doing church."

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Jay's picture

I recently had to relocate approx. an hour south of the church I pastor. It's been difficult - extraordinarily so at times [I left work at 4 for a 7:00 meeting in order to avoid traffic congestion and allocate myself some time to eat and review materials ], but I do think it's doable. Things like the planned Easter Sunrise Service take extra attention and planning. So I'd say that I can effectively pastor - at least, no one's complained yet, although it's only been 4 months!

Minister to the community - well, like I said earlier - it takes extra care and planning. Is it the same? No. But I think it can be done. It all depends on the makeup and spiritual strength of the members who do live in the community. It's not the Pastor's job to 'reach the community' by himself.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Alex Guggenheim's picture

1. Does the Bible require this? No.
2. Do the Scriptures have examples of men providing divinely commissioned spiritual direction to people from a distance, in fact a substantial distance and for an extended period of time? Yes
__________________________________________________

So why is such a question asked or why would such an expectation be expressed?

Possibly because:

1. People believe the Pastor must be part of the community to be effective. But from what biblical cause is their to assert or demand such a thing from the Pastor when the community to which he belongs most greatly and is emphasized so strongly, is that which is God's and not this world's which operates on principles and protocol very foreign to our earthly properties? The objections are generally, "but he doesn't know what I am going through in my particular situation because he lives....". And to that one very easily answers that it is not his job to personally know your experience, that is an impossible expectation for a Pastor and an anti-biblical one. What he is to do is observe all he can and study as much as he can so he may teach you the Word of God so that when you have been taught you can take that with you and apply it to your personal situation.

As well, under this notion people have the view that as "part of the community" the Pastor will build a reputation and this is part of his role? Really? No it is not. A reputation is anecdotal, not something to be pursued. It is consequential. No matter how far a Pastor lives away, he is shepherding God's people, not the community. Yes, he will interact from time to time with people in a community but even if he lives far away, no doubt during his working day or during services and afterward he will interact with people and no matter where he lives, whatever reputation he earns will be earned. A person's residence is not what makes or break a reputation. But again, a reputation in the community is not what he is called to seek, it is shepherding God's people.

Yes, some Pastors like snorting pork with everyone around them, getting their name in the paper or some local recognition for their civic involvement and so on, but again where is such presented as binding in Scripture? It isn't. I am sure someone can find a passage to take out of context or twist, though. Smile

2. It is a practical matter. People want more immediate or geographical "access" to the Pastor in some form of fashion. Well, again, what biblical cause is there for this? The Pastor and the church come to an agreement with regard to his hours and his working location. The Pastor is not at your beckon call. His residence is a private matter between his family and such a determination is reserved for the divine institution of self, marriage and family into which the church (including its members) have no business assaulting through attempts to usurp and take control or manipulate in some fashion.

There are probably many other reasons people imagine that a Pastor should fit some ideal living arrangement but in the end no such prescription is warranted in the Bible. Secondly, each man, himself, is the beginning of the divine institutions and with the institution of the self or the individual, God has granted implicit and explicit freedoms and rights, things that are for our determination and ours only and not for others to attempt to usurp or manipulate.

And the location of a man's residence is one of those issues that falls within the divine institutions of self, marriage and family. A man has the God granted right to determine what location is best for him, what environment is best for his residence and family and it is not within the divine scope of liberty for others to, unjustly, imposed upon that freedom.

The truth is that generally most Ministers lived within their metropolitan area. However, simply because as a matter of practicality this is true, it does not warrant ignoring the lack of biblical prescription or introducing a prescription that is based on statistics simply because most do it this way.

The argument must be made that this necessity is biblical and if the bible is lacking in such an argument, even implicitly and does in fact demonstrate spiritual guidance from a distance, there really is nothing left other than the practical suggestion that the Pastor consider living in the metro area and after that, keep your nose out of his divinely granted freedom if he chooses otherwise.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
1. Does the Bible require this? No.
2. Do the Scriptures have examples of men providing divinely commissioned spiritual direction to people from a distance, in fact a substantial distance and for an extended period of time? Yes
__________________________________________________

So why is such a question asked or why would such an expectation be expressed?

Possibly because:

1. People believe the Pastor must be part of the community to be effective. But from what biblical cause is their to assert or demand such a thing from the Pastor when the community to which he belongs most greatly and is emphasized so strongly, is that which is God's and not this world's which operates on principles and protocol very foreign to our earthly properties? The objections are generally, "but he doesn't know what I am going through in my particular situation because he lives....". And to that one very easily answers that it is not his job to personally know your experience, that is an impossible expectation for a Pastor and an anti-biblical one. What he is to do is observe all he can and study as much as he can so he may teach you the Word of God so that when you have been taught you can take that with you and apply it to your personal situation.

As well, under this notion people have the view that as "part of the community" the Pastor will build a reputation and this is part of his role? Really? No it is not. A reputation is anecdotal, not something to be pursued. It is consequential. No matter how far a Pastor lives away, he is shepherding God's people, not the community. Yes, he will interact from time to time with people in a community but even if he lives far away, no doubt during his working day or during services and afterward he will interact with people and no matter where he lives, whatever reputation he earns will be earned. A person's residence is not what makes or break a reputation. But again, a reputation in the community is not what he is called to seek, it is shepherding God's people.

Yes, some Pastors like snorting pork with everyone around them, getting their name in the paper or some local recognition for their civic involvement and so on, but again where is such presented as binding in Scripture? It isn't. I am sure someone can find a passage to take out of context or twist, though. Smile

2. It is a practical matter. People want more immediate or geographical "access" to the Pastor in some form of fashion. Well, again, what biblical cause is there for this? The Pastor and the church come to an agreement with regard to his hours and his working location. The Pastor is not at your beckon call. His residence is a private matter between his family and such a determination is reserved for the divine institution of self, marriage and family into which the church (including its members) have no business assaulting through attempts to usurp and take control or manipulate in some fashion.

There are probably many other reasons people imagine that a Pastor should fit some ideal living arrangement but in the end no such prescription is warranted in the Bible. Secondly, each man, himself, is the beginning of the divine institutions and with the institution of the self or the individual, God has granted implicit and explicit freedoms and rights, things that are for our determination and ours only and not for others to attempt to usurp or manipulate.

And the location of a man's residence is one of those issues that falls within the divine institutions of self, marriage and family. A man has the God granted right to determine what location is best for him, what environment is best for his residence and family and it is not within the divine scope of liberty for others to, unjustly, imposed upon that freedom.

The truth is that generally most Ministers lived within their metropolitan area. However, simply because as a matter of practicality this is true, it does not warrant ignoring the lack of biblical prescription or introducing a prescription that is based on statistics simply because most do it this way.

The argument must be made that this necessity is biblical and if the bible is lacking in such an argument, even implicitly and does in fact demonstrate spiritual guidance from a distance, there really is nothing left other than the practical suggestion that the Pastor consider living in the metro area and after that, we need to keep our noses out of his divinely granted freedom if he chooses otherwise.

Larry's picture

Moderator

There's no direct biblical injunction, but it seems a pretty obvious practical matter that the pastor should live fairly close to the community that his church is trying to reach.

First, there's the issue of being "one of them." You will have a hard time pastoring a church in one type of community if you live in another. If you are trying to reach a poor urban community, you will have a hard time if you driving twenty minutes in from a well to do suburban community. Again, it seems so obvious as to not need mentioning, but sometimes it does. If people think that the pastor is too good to live in their community, they will probably not listen to him or seek him out when they have problems. When I first came here, some people were surprised that I lived here. It gives me a connection with people I meet on the streets. I can leave my house and be on "church visitation" within seconds. I don't have to make spend an hour driving to walk the streets and the city parks to meet people around the church.

Second, there's the issue of convenience. A pastor who lives close to the church will find it more convenient to spend time studying and spend time with his family, I think. Being able to run home for ten minutes to see the kids or the wife is a great benefit that you don't have when you live a long ways away. If you live twenty-thirty minutes away, you are spending an hour or so every day in the car, and that's an hour that's usually not being redeemed in a productive manner. Plus if you are going to spend 8-10 hours a day in ministry, and then another hour on top of that driving, that's a lot of time. And then something is going to get cut. Staying late after church doesn't mean I have to miss my kid's bed time because I can be there in three minutes even if I walk.

So is it biblical? No, but it is certainly practical and IMO a pastor should live in the community he is trying to lead his church to reach. Why wouldn't you would be my question?

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Larry wrote:
So is it biblical? No, but it is certainly practical and IMO a pastor should live in the community he is trying to lead his church to reach. Why wouldn't you would be my question?

1. Always remember, no matter how practical it is not a biblical prescription, hence no matter the argument there is no biblical cause. Obviously you made it clear with the "IMO" you understand it is simply your opinion. Good to see.

2. As to the question, it is one that intrudes upon the divine institution of self, marriage and family because it presumes that a man exercising such divine liberties in determining where he or he and his family will reside is answerable to the one asking the questions and of course he isn't. It is a question we are not given by God the liberty to ask nor one for which we should demand an answer.

Larry's picture

Moderator

Quote:
2. As to the question, it is one that intrudes upon the divine institution of self, marriage and family because it presumes that a man exercising such divine liberties in determining where he or he and his family will reside is answerable to the one asking the questions and of course he isn't. It is a question we are not given by God the liberty to ask nor one for which we should demand an answer.
I already pointed out that it wasn't a biblical prescription. That was the basis of my comments. However, the question doesn't intrude on anything biblical. There is nothing biblical that prevents the questions from being asked about how effective pastoring is carried out.

We could ask about effective pastoring in any number of venues, such as distance from the church, type of community, time spent on various endeavors, hobbies, and leisure, vacations, etc., none of which are biblical or unbiblical in terms of asking the question. This question deals with (as I said) matters of practicality. It is not a matter of biblical obedience but of how to effectively pastor a church. It is in fact a question that should be asked by every church and every pastor. There's not one right answer for everyone, but the question should be asked. The pastor is answerable to the church, at least to some degree, and both the church and the pastor should consider this.

rogercarlson's picture

Alex,

I think you are giving opinion as much as Larry. Paul did travel alot when he was planting churches. But he stayed in a much closer proximity to churches he was planting than what you are saying. I don't think you can say there is a Biblical madate either way. At the same time, Larry is right about an urban area. Certainly Larry could have the freedom to live in say Flat Rock, our Allen Park and pastor in River Rouge. But he has alot more respect by living in River Rouge. I am not sure if you are familiar with that area but it is a much rougher town. I also know he will have more opportunities with his people and for evangelism.

The reason I voted the way I did had more to do with my current ministry. If I lived an hour away, I would be pounding my head against the way. The reigon that I am in is very community oriented. I was pastor here 5 years before I learned deep secrets about the community. When i heard them, problems that I had been seeing in and out of the church made sense after I learned that. I did not learn them from anyone in the church but when I was on a ride along with a police officer. When I asked one of my members about it, he said "Yeah, I thought everyone knew about that."

Also, you are right it is not my job as pastor to be the only one evangelizing. However, I should be about it. I should be modeling it. If I lived an hour from here how would i have time to follow Matthew 18 with my neighbors? Even if they came to a profession of faith, I could not effectively disciple them and they would not be likely to become members of Berean Baptist Church becauase of distance. Now when i lived in the Det suburbs I could do that more, but not so much here. I am not interested in my name in the paper, and I think most of the people in my church are concerned with that either. Being involved int he community has given me greater opportunities for the Gospel than I would have if I were not. The areas that I am involved with are ministry related (i.e Fire Dept Chaplain and fire fighter). Just some food for thought.

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

Greg Linscott's picture

The question seems to assume a church in a suburban/urban setting. A church that is in or servicing a more rural population renders the answer less significant, as I see it/ In both churches I have served in as pastor, the congregations have had significant percentages of families that drive longer distances than those in the question asked of the pastor (30-45 min one way, in many cases). Ministry has involved being available to those people and their neighbors, too. A pastor friend of mine here in the MBA has proposed recently in an article here (http://www.mbaoc.net/2010/02/north-star-update-february-2010-%E2%80%93-v...) that churches and pastors even consider situations where a pastor would oversee two or more congregations in situations where a smaller group might not be able to sustain the support of one pastor alone.

Even in larger church settings, church buildings are not necessarily placed in such locations where they are ideally situated for "community" accessibility as they once were. Observe, for example, where [URL=http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=2219+250th+S... ]my church's building[/URL ] is compared to the rest of the town. By the way, this factored into the conscious decision our family made to get a house in town, even when looking at homes in neighboring towns/outlying area from Marshall might have been more advantageous both financially and property-wise. While our church isn't a particular large or urban one, I know we are not alone in the placement of our building away from residential areas.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Larry's picture

Moderator

A rural area is definitely a different issue, Greg, in some ways. And one pastor serving two or more gatherings is not a bad idea necessarily. It certainly has precedent. My comments are directed at a more populated area where people out number cows (though perhaps not vacant houses).

I think it is, to a large degree, a cultural issue. Urban poor, racially mixed, "dangerous" communities have some cultural particularities, as do suburbanite, soccer-mom type communities.

So as I say, there is no one right answer. There are some practical areas to consider.

rogercarlson's picture

I agree guys. I am in an odd area. We are Urban and rual mixed together. We have the major Lating gangs in both of these towns as well as a steel mill and plenty of corn. It is the most unusual place that i have ever lived, but I love it.!

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

Alex Guggenheim's picture

rogercarlson wrote:
Alex,

I think you are giving opinion as much as Larry.

Well Roger, I didn't give an opinion as to where the Pastor ought to live, I simply cited the lack of biblical prescription.

However, what I did cite are the divine institutions and their boundaries which is biblical (unless you believe they are not and then it would be rather interesting to read such a rebuttal) which begins with the self, then marriage and then family of which no one but the members of those institutions have authority for certain determinations including which is the chosen location of one's residence.

And the point of the biblical observation of divine institutions and their boundaries is just that, those boundary markers are not just where our liberties and duties in such institutions end but also where others may not trespass and that is not my opinion, rather the expression of the Divine protocol of God presented in Scripture.

rogercarlson's picture

Alex,
Of course I wouldnt disagree witht he Divine Boundries. In fact, in some circumstances, the only way for a pastor to honor them is to live close to wear he pastors. Smile And in other circumstances, it is living further away.

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Larry wrote:
We could ask about effective pastoring in any number of venues, such as distance from the church, type of community, time spent on various endeavors, hobbies, and leisure, vacations, etc., none of which are biblical or unbiblical in terms of asking the question.
You are right, we can and should ask about effective pastoring at the right times and in the right places. However, the view that we may assume that any and all considerations under the general banner of effective pastoring are open to inquiry is quite contrary to divine protocol in Scripture regarding the boundaries of the divine institutions and a grave error that leads to serious dysfunction within local assemblies. Yes, some questions are valid and the bible prescribes they be asked, but questions that trespass into other divine institutions, questions that trespass into the authority of another...are indeed unbiblical.

Now it might be that some people do not understand or accept the divine institutions of self, marriage and family and all of their God ordained duties and liberties and I can see, then, where their lacking here might lead them to believe no such boundaries exist or that their institutional protocol need not be respected since they are not recognized thereby leading someone to a place of failing to see the need to temper, modify or identify as invalid, questions, when approaching the role of the Pastor. However, their lack of understanding does not undo the boundaries and limits God has set both explicitly and implicitly regarding questions we may ask our Pastor and demand an answer for seeing that they, too, partake in these institutions and unless a directive in Scripture supersedes their liberties or duties in other divine institutions, we simply may not presume to trespass.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

rogercarlson wrote:
Alex,
Of course I wouldnt disagree witht he Divine Boundries. In fact, in some circumstances, the only way for a pastor to honor them is to live close to wear he pastors. Smile And in other circumstances, it is living further away.
I agree and am confident that if a faithful Pastor discovered that the location of his residence hindered what he believe were duties within his call, he would remedy it with appropriate action.

BryanBice's picture

The only applicable passage I can think of that's germane to this poll is Titus 1:5. Paul seemed to think it was important that pastors be in the towns in which they labor. I understand there are less than ideal circumstances that make that temporarily, at least, impossible. But I believe a pastor should do all he can to live in the community in which he labors. That has been a commonsense, timeless approach.

I've seen an interesting corallary to this. I pastored a church in Vermont, and ours was the only family that lived in the community. The family that lived closest to the church was about 10 min. away. Most lived 20 min or more...a few lived more than 30 min away. The community itself, by the way, was suburban in character. What I observed is that 1) it was an additional hardship for the church families to be involved in ministry, 2) the families were largely ineffective at reaching their neighbors, especially in getting them to visit church, and 3) the church was ineffective at reaching the community because no one was really connected to it. It took us several years of living there & building bridges before we started to see some interest in the church. I think a pastor living outside his church's community is going to experience those same things.

So the ideal situation is to live in a community and pastor a church in that community comprised primarily of families from that community.

Larry's picture

Moderator

Quote:
However, the view that we may assume that any and all considerations under the general banner of effective pastoring are open to inquiry is quite contrary to divine protocol in Scripture regarding the boundaries of the divine institutions
Where in Scripture is this divine protocol that rules out asking how effective a pastor one can be from X distance away?

Quote:
Yes, some questions are valid and the bible prescribes they be asked, but questions that trespass into other divine institutions, questions that trespass into the authority of another...are indeed unbiblical.
I don't think anyone here has made this an issue of authority have they?

Quote:
Now it might be that some people do not understand or accept the divine institutions of self, marriage and family and all of their God ordained duties and liberties and I can see, then, where their lacking here might lead them to believe no such boundaries exist or that their institutional protocol need not be respected since they are not recognized thereby leading someone to a place of failing to see the need to temper, modify or identify as invalid, questions, when approaching the role of the Pastor. However, their lack of understanding does not undo the boundaries and limits God has set both explicitly and implicitly regarding questions we may ask our Pastor and demand an answer for seeing that they, too, partake in these institutions and unless a directive in Scripture supersedes their liberties or duties in other divine institutions, we simply may not presume to trespass.
You certainly have a way with words. Biggrin

But hopefully you realize that your declaration that a question is invalid does not make it invalid.

I would be interested in your response to actual issues of effective pastoring vis-a-vis the distance that a pastor lives from the church. No one here is making dogmatic pronouncements about obedience, setting any kind of authority, or denying the existence of boundaries. We are simply exploring how pastoring is affected by the distance that a pastor lives from his church building/congregation/community.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

BryanBice wrote:
So the ideal situation is to live in a community and pastor a church in that community comprised primarily of families from that community.
Seeing that the Scriptures make no such prescription and whatever "ideal" one feels there is for a Pastor's residence, ultimately we are left with opinion as to whether it is more or less beneficial to live in the town in which one Pastor's and lives us, ultimately, with no warrant to frown upon or approve the choices of others on the matter.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Larry wrote:
Quote:
However, the view that we may assume that any and all considerations under the general banner of effective pastoring are open to inquiry is quite contrary to divine protocol in Scripture regarding the boundaries of the divine institutions
Where in Scripture is this divine protocol that rules out asking how effective a pastor one can be from X distance away?
For me two things stand out:

1. Is this approached in the Scriptures?
2. Do the boundaries of other divine institutions either explicitly or implicitly deny the validity of such an inquiry or consideration.

Because I see no place in Scripture twhere Pastor's residence is elevated to a point of qualifying or evaluating a man and the execution of his office and because contained within the duties and privileges of the divine institutions of self, marriage and family which allot to all of us the determination of our residence, I find it to have been ruled out as a valid question. Where he lives is his responsibility and if it interferes with his duties then it is his responsibility to remedy that, if not then again that is his concern.

Quote:
Yes, some questions are valid and the bible prescribes they be asked, but questions that trespass into other divine institutions, questions that trespass into the authority of another...are indeed unbiblical.
Larry wrote:
I don't think anyone here has made this an issue of authority have they?
No, not in a direct way but it does become an issue of authority if we trespass institutional boundaries and approaching people with certain kinds of questions is certainly a way that can be done.

Quote:
Now it might be that some people do not understand or accept the divine institutions of self, marriage and family and all of their God ordained duties and liberties and I can see, then, where their lacking here might lead them to believe no such boundaries exist or that their institutional protocol need not be respected since they are not recognized thereby leading someone to a place of failing to see the need to temper, modify or identify as invalid, questions, when approaching the role of the Pastor. However, their lack of understanding does not undo the boundaries and limits God has set both explicitly and implicitly regarding questions we may ask our Pastor and demand an answer for seeing that they, too, partake in these institutions and unless a directive in Scripture supersedes their liberties or duties in other divine institutions, we simply may not presume to trespass.
Larry wrote:
You certainly have a way with words. Biggrin
I couldn't hold a candle to Joseph Smile

Larry wrote:
But hopefully you realize that your declaration that a question is invalid does not make it invalid.
No but recognizing that some questions are invalid is what is important and why they are invalid which serves as a much more broad tool in determining what may or may not be asked.

Larry wrote:
I would be interested in your response to actual issues of effective pastoring vis-a-vis the distance that a pastor lives from the church. No one here is making dogmatic pronouncements about obedience, setting any kind of authority, or denying the existence of boundaries. We are simply exploring how pastoring is affected by the distance that a pastor lives from his church building/congregation/community.
I am exploring as well. However, my family and I were Pastored at a distance for a number of years, quite effectively. And during that time I did not close my eyes but evaluated the criticisms of distant Pastoring and found them extremely lacking though filled with zeal.

Yes, I know no one is being dogmatic that I can see. And I realize that my position is not siding sympathetically to the necessity of a local Pastor. In reality most have that and that is what works out but that is not the question in the OP so I have tried to stay focused on the consideration in the OP. So let me take this time to personally validate, if I have appeared not to, the value of local Pastors. They are generally what most churches have and I certainly cannot find anything in Scripture decrying a Pastor living in his community nor would do I contend in some eccentric manner he move away to make a point.

Larry's picture

Moderator

Quote:
Where he lives is his responsibility and if it interferes with his duties then it is his responsibility to remedy that, if not then again that is his concern.
Thanks, Alex.

In your opinion, can a church legitimately refuse to call a pastor or dismiss a pastor based on the distance he lives from the church?

BryanBice's picture

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
BryanBice wrote:
So the ideal situation is to live in a community and pastor a church in that community comprised primarily of families from that community.
Seeing that the Scriptures make no such prescription and whatever "ideal" one feels there is for a Pastor's residence, ultimately we are left with opinion as to whether it is more or less beneficial to live in the town in which one Pastor's and lives us, ultimately, with no warrant to frown upon or approve the choices of others on the matter.

Again, Titus 1:5 provides a basis for asserting the ideal situation regarding a pastor's residence.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

BryanBice wrote:
Alex Guggenheim wrote:
BryanBice wrote:
So the ideal situation is to live in a community and pastor a church in that community comprised primarily of families from that community.
Seeing that the Scriptures make no such prescription and whatever "ideal" one feels there is for a Pastor's residence, ultimately we are left with opinion as to whether it is more or less beneficial to live in the town in which one Pastor's and lives us, ultimately, with no warrant to frown upon or approve the choices of others on the matter.

Again, Titus 1:5 provides a basis for asserting the ideal situation regarding a pastor's residence.


Bryan, I am sorry but it is a very damaged hermeneutic that asserts this.

Here is the passage:

Quote:
5For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:

6If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.

7For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;

8But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;

9Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.

Most "germane", as you mentioned, is what immediately follows this statement where Paul gives the qualifications of a Pastor as guess what is missing? Exactly! Quite absent is the requirement that he live in the same locality. If it were such a necessity and clearly required no doubt God would not have been negligent in providing this detail.

The locality of the people involved in this passage is anecdotal. They are already, in fact, present in these cities. They are not qualified or disqualified by their residency either in or outside of such cities and again, when Paul begins his list of qualifications this eccentric demand that they live in the same city is no where to be found because, in fact, it isn't a requirement.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Larry wrote:
Quote:
Where he lives is his responsibility and if it interferes with his duties then it is his responsibility to remedy that, if not then again that is his concern.
Thanks, Alex.

In your opinion, can a church legitimately refuse to call a pastor or dismiss a pastor based on the distance he lives from the church?

Yes, before he is called if the church determines that a certain distance is unacceptable they have that right, beforehand, to make it clear how far away he may live. The reason this does not interfere with the divine institution of self, marriage or family is because he (the potential Pastor) is still able to make his own decision whether to accept those limits or live without them.

Now, I personally would be very wary of any church that started dictating to me how far away I could live but...I cannot say it would it is a deal breaker as long as, if one accepts such proximal requirements, they come to a sound and solid agreement that this is all that is at issue and not other issues such as what neighborhood in those prescribed limits and or whether he may own property outside of such limits and so on which, if they started into those requirements, I would recommend a man move on because that is a sign of dysfunction in a church.

rogercarlson's picture

Alex,

You and I have different circumstances. I have NEVER seen a pastor do the work as effectively as someone who lived within the town which he pastored. Yes, there are other circumstances involved (skill in handling the Word, etc). you have seen it work well, and I am glad. Consider this though, even if you are right in your refuting of Bryan's example, what about the fact that you really don't have any examples of New Testiment pastors as you say. Paul was a church planter and when he was planting churches he was in the local. Are there any examples of New Testiment pastors that pastored from a distance? There may be, but I can't think of one. Again, I don't think you can be dogmatic either way. In your case, were you able to see any of your neighbors be discipled in your local assembly (or in an assembly in the area where you lived)?

One other question. You said, "the duties and privileges of the divine institutions of self." What do you mean by this statement? I see you said it before, but I missed it.

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

Alex Guggenheim's picture

rogercarlson wrote:
Alex,

You and I have different circumstances. I have NEVER seen a pastor do the work as effectively as someone who lived within the town which he pastored. Yes, there are other circumstances involved (skill in handling the Word, etc). you have seen it work well, and I am glad. Consider this though, even if you are right in your refuting of Bryan's example, what about the fact that you really don't have any examples of New Testiment pastors as you say. Paul was a church planter and when he was planting churches he was in the local. Are there any examples of New Testiment pastors that pastored from a distance? There may be, but I can't think of one. Again, I don't think you can be dogmatic either way. In your case, were you able to see any of your neighbors be discipled in your local assembly (or in an assembly in the area where you lived)?

One other question. You said, "the duties and privileges of the divine institutions of self." What do you mean by this statement? I see you said it before, but I missed it.

First, while Paul did establish churches, he did so under the role of Apostle which leads me to somewhat of a differently connected view and context of Paul and his work and its relationship to the discussion. Let me explain:

As an Apostle one of the many functions was the the dissemination of the gospel which resulted in the establishment of local assemblies. And while he helped establish these churches he also Pastored them in some temporary manner until men of qualification arose. Now it is not reasonable to assume that all of these churches he started always had a man ready to assume the role of Elder, in hand. In fact, in Crete as noted, he didn't have Elders at the churches in the various cities where he Pastored multiple churches under the supreme function of his Apostleship. Though when he left Crete he assigned Titus to ordain qualified men it is clear many or at least some of them, at that time, only had Paul in many cities, as their Pastor. So while you do cite Paul working locally, he also Pastored from a distance and it goes without saying he "Apostled" from an ever greater distance seeing all of the churches under his supervision. But none of us are Apostles and that office and those giftings are gone, but since you brought him up as one point I thought I would address it.

As to the absence of a Pastor at a distance not present in the Scriptures, you may have a point of observation but I do not view the Scriptures as intending on providing all of the valid residential context of Pastors. And to further address this I would equate it to other absences in the Scriptures. Let me explain:

I see no examples of paraplegic Pastors, deaf Pastors (maybe Paul healed them all then Smile ), blind Pastors and so on. No mention at all. Why? Again, because this is not the intent of the Scriptures, that is to provide an example of every possible acceptable context of all Pastors. The fact is it would be impossible. In my view the Scriptures, particularly regarding the Pastor, clearly approaches their qualifications in a different context that is absent of their physical stature, residential locality and so on.

As well, it is quite natural for those men to most likely have lived in or quite near the city where they functioned as an Elder. There was no rapid transportation so either human or animal travel was the furthest one lived. That was their context and it is anecdotal to the matter in my view.

You are right about neither being dogmatic, I agree. What I am dogmatic about is not whether a Pastor must or must not live in our outside of a city, rather that it is his divine right to make that decision and it is a trespass of others to demand otherwise.

As to people being witnessed to, converting and/or being discipled, it was no different than any other church.

The divine institution of self or the individual is just that, what God created in Adam. One man, Adam, himself, was and still is the very first institution God created for humanity's existence and perpetuity here on earth. Followed by that was marriage and then family and eventually government and during the church age we also have the divine institution of the church. All of these institutions have a divine design (no, not HGTV) and intent. When God created Adam he did so with an intended protocol for Adam to follow. That protocol involved both liberties and duties for Adam which were his, given by God, to exercise. The particular duties and liberties are identified both explicitly and implicitly throughout the Scriptures, many in Genesis but much beyond that.

These duties and liberties are commissions given to each human that is not designed by God for others to violate. When others intrude upon the institution of another self they violate God's parameters for that person. Two examples come to mind:

1. Cain's murder of Abel. God gave Abel that life, it was not Cain's to take. Cain violated the divine institution of Abel's self by determining when Abel would die and how he would die and denying him the duties and liberties of the life given to him (not to mention violated The Eternal Institution of God).

2. Gossip is forbidden because it, too, violates the properties of the institution of the individual. Gossip reveals to another business that is not theirs to possess. It steals from one man the issues of a private matter that are his to attend to and his only or those of his choosing and gives to another involvement in a matter that is forbidden for them to receive. Gossip attacks many divine institutions but most often it attacks the divine institution of self.

Notice even in the garden when Adam and Eve were operating as husband and wife. When they sinned, though they sinned in a cooperation, they answered as individuals. God did not ignore what he had established and set in motion for humanity. The selves answered for themselves with no appeal to the divine institution of marriage as a contributor (though they tried this tactic). Even while you operate in one or more divine institutions, the boundaries of other institutions are not to be diminished or violated.

I hope this helps, some.

BryanBice's picture

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
BryanBice wrote:
Alex Guggenheim wrote:
BryanBice wrote:
So the ideal situation is to live in a community and pastor a church in that community comprised primarily of families from that community.
Seeing that the Scriptures make no such prescription and whatever "ideal" one feels there is for a Pastor's residence, ultimately we are left with opinion as to whether it is more or less beneficial to live in the town in which one Pastor's and lives us, ultimately, with no warrant to frown upon or approve the choices of others on the matter.

Again, Titus 1:5 provides a basis for asserting the ideal situation regarding a pastor's residence.


Bryan, I am sorry but it is a very damaged hermeneutic that asserts this.

Here is the passage:

Quote:
5For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:

6If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.

7For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;

8But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;

9Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.

Most "germane", as you mentioned, is what immediately follows this statement where Paul gives the qualifications of a Pastor as guess what is missing? Exactly! Quite absent is the requirement that he live in the same locality. If it were such a necessity and clearly required no doubt God would not have been negligent in providing this detail.

The locality of the people involved in this passage is anecdotal. They are already, in fact, present in these cities. They are not qualified or disqualified by their residency either in or outside of such cities and again, when Paul begins his list of qualifications this eccentric demand that they live in the same city is no where to be found because, in fact, it isn't a requirement.

"germane" -- "being both pertinent and fitting; related (to the topic being considered); akin; relevant"

Verses 6-9 are germane to the question of a man's suitability for pastoral ministry, that is, his character & skills qualifications. These are not germane to topic of this thread. What is germane is v. 5. Remember, the question of the thread has to do with "effectively pastor" and "reach a community" if the pastor lives a significant distance from that community. Verse 5 seems to indicate that elders, once ordained, would live and serve in the town/city in which the local church existed. In fact, the commentators I consulted (Knight/Marshall/Mounce, et al) take it that Titus would survey the churches within the communities & seek out those qualified to serve as the church's pastor. That's a simple observation of the text, not a "very damaged hermeneutic," whatever that means. Does Paul elevate one's residency to the level of character qualification? No, and no one suggested as much. I simply pointed out an apparent practice, cited in scripture, that is "pertinent and fitting" to the thread. I did suggest that this practice provides a basis for the ideal situation. I'm confident that you realize that's not the same thing as saying, "The Bible in Titus 1:5 commands pastors to live in the community where their church is located."

Paul Kovach's picture

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
1. Does the Bible require this? No.

So why is such a question asked or why would such an expectation be expressed?

Be careful in your assumption of why a question has been asked. I do see that you have had to deal with this issue personally and it indelibly bleeds through your comments. It is simply a question born out of curiousity as I travel to so many churches each year and see such variations of pastoring. Am I calling into question a pastor's character or liberty? No! There is a matter of personal character that is involved in doing so from a distance. One has to be willing to not allow the distance to keep him from being an effective pastor..

Here are some simple observations....maybe too simple.

1. The Apostle Paul was a church planter, not a permanent pastor or shepherd of a church. As bro. Carlson pointed out, he was in close proximity to the churches while he was starting them. When it was time for him to leave, he left multiple men as pastors in the areas where he started the churches so that they could serve the churches as pastors. After he had started a church he left a local pastor to shepherd that flock. Whenever he did return to that church, it was for the purpose of confirming or strengthening them, not to pastor them. Whereas the Bible does not delineate a qualification of distance for a pastor, there are examples of how the pastors that he left behind were in that community.

Greg Linscott wrote:
This question seems to assume a church in a suburban/urban setting.

2. In framing this question, which was actually just kinda thrown out there to generate discussion on this issues I have seen, i have been thinking of rural areas. Right now, I am living about 20 minutes from the border of Kentucky and Indiana on the Kentucky side. I have seen many rural churches here and I find it interesting that many pastors who live in KY pastor their church in Indiana and vise versa, often driving 20-30 minutes or more for services. I have personally seen how these churches seem to suffer from it, not to say that there may not be other factors, but the pastor being a significant distance away does seem to play a factor in the equation. Their being involved in community outreach and soul winning is non-existent. Am I saying that it is solely the pastor's job to reach the lost of the community of the church? No! The people need to be taught to be involved in actively winning the lost, but the pastor needs to be there teaching them, and by example. That is how Jesus taught His disciples and how Paul taught the new members of the churches he started as he nurtured them as a nursemaid. I know rural areas can be different. I have a dear brother that pastors in Limestone, MI and he drives thousands of miles, knocking on doors, visiting members, etc, and his church is thriving.

3. This may be oversimplifying here, but a pastor is a shepherd of his sheep that God has entrusted to him. Biblically speaking, a shepherd was in constant proximity to his sheep, protecting them, feeding them, mending their wounds. He was so intimate with his sheep that he slept with them at night as the door to the sheepfold. Again, correct me if I am oversimplifying, but the Bible likens pastors to shepherd and I would say that principle of application applies as a general rule.

Look, shish kabob me if you like, all I can say is "That is what I have seen as we travel and have had the opportunity to observe hundreds of churches." Again, as a general rule, the churches who have pastors/shepherds living within the community of the church are thriving more so than a church with a pastor/shepherd who lives far away.

Keep up the discussion! **Biting my nails to see how the Piranhas are gonna tear me apart on this one.*** Smile

Paul Kovach Missionary to BRAZIL http://www.kovachministries.com

Greg Linscott's picture

Quote:
I have a dear brother that pastors in Limestone, MI and he drives thousands of miles, knocking on doors, visiting members, etc, and his church is thriving.

Yes, but where does he live in relation to the people he serves? Smile

It sounds to me like you are making statements that possibly have nothing to do with location of a pastor's home. If you are attributing "knocking on doors, visiting members, etc, " as the criteria, I propose to you that someone could do a fair bit of that driving from Kentucky into Indiana on a regular basis, especially if he operated out of his Indiana office during the day, or timed calls to Kentucky members from his home. Bus ministry oriented churches in the Chicago area regularly bus children longer times and distances than what you describe, from what I have heard. On the other hand, a pastor could live in a parsonage next door to the church building and be detached and disconnected from his church and community.

However, the idea of being "in close (geographical) proximity to one's sheep" can be a difficult thing to gauge, especially when one considers factors in current American ministry. In small churches, as I have noted, many people drive long distances to attend church- this can be true in both rural and urban settings. In larger churches, size can become a factor to the degree that the "senior" pastor, at least, lacks the ability to herd the sheep as literally as you describe in your point 3- unless you are advocating that he direct them to some kind of communal-style living so he might shepherd them more effectively. Other factors as varied as housing costs, education, Family security, proximity to special healthcare needs for family... simple realities that can differ from one person to the next make this a difficult principle to generalize, as I see it.

I'm not saying that challenges should be avoided. I am saying that there is plenty of leeway, Scripturally speaking, to allow each to be "fully persuaded in his own mind" without harshly condemning another for arriving at a different conclusion on the matter. At the same time, locations that may prove a disadvantage (for whatever reason) should not be allowed to remain so.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Paul Kovach's picture

Quote:
Yes, but where does he live in relation to the people he serves?

He lives in the community, nearer the church. Because it is rural, many of his members live a bit away. He is in his 50's and still manages to keep up with the flock as well as make new contacts.

Quote:
On the other hand, a pastor could live in a parsonage next door to the church building and be detached and disconnected from his church and community.

I guess people are just not reading what I said...I have fully agreed with this in each of my posts. It can become a simple matter of character on the part of the pastor. However, I have observed that GENERALLY (so nobody misses I said that or feels they need to use multiple posts to tout how effective they have been at distance pastoring) the closer a pastor lives to his church / flock / community, the better off the church APPEARS to be, and the inverse of this is true!

Quote:
Scripturally speaking, to allow each to be "fully persuaded in his own mind" without harshly condemning another for arriving at a different conclusion on the matter.

I have never said otherwise.

Quote:
unless you are advocating that he direct them to some kind of communal-style living so he might shepherd them more effectively.

Of course this is ludicrous, that it why i refer to it as a general guideline or guiding principle. There is also a factor of size, but then again, that is why the deacons were elected...to aid in such matters.

Paul Kovach Missionary to BRAZIL http://www.kovachministries.com

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Paul Kovach wrote:
Alex Guggenheim wrote:
1. Does the Bible require this? No.

So why is such a question asked or why would such an expectation be expressed?

Be careful in your assumption of why a question has been asked. I do see that you have had to deal with this issue personally and it indelibly bleeds through your comments.

Had I not followed the questions the qualifier:
Quote:
Possibly because
You would have warrant for viewing my responses as assumptive. However, with that term, possibly, the context of assuming is removed.

Greg Linscott's picture

Paul Kovach wrote:
Quote:
Yes, but where does he live in relation to the people he serves?

He lives in the community, nearer the church. Because it is rural, many of his members live a bit away. He is in his 50's and still manages to keep up with the flock as well as make new contacts.

Quote:
On the other hand, a pastor could live in a parsonage next door to the church building and be detached and disconnected from his church and community.

I guess people are just not reading what I said...I have fully agreed with this in each of my posts. It can become a simple matter of character on the part of the pastor. However, I have observed that GENERALLY (so nobody misses I said that or feels they need to use multiple posts to tout how effective they have been at distance pastoring) the closer a pastor lives to his church / flock / community, the better off the church APPEARS to be, and the inverse of this is true!

Quote:
Scripturally speaking, to allow each to be "fully persuaded in his own mind" without harshly condemning another for arriving at a different conclusion on the matter.

I have never said otherwise.

Quote:
unless you are advocating that he direct them to some kind of communal-style living so he might shepherd them more effectively.

Of course this is ludicrous, that it why i refer to it as a general guideline or guiding principle. There is also a factor of size, but then again, that is why the deacons were elected...to aid in such matters.

After reading everything you've said, I'm not really sure what your point was in asking the question. You've drawn your conclusion, and seem to be looking for those who would agree with what you planned to say, and taking exception to those who disagree. It's not a big deal to me either way how this thread goes, but again, it seems to me that the way you are responding to those who don't immediately accept your premise makes it difficult to understand why you asked the question in the first place, unless you were just looking to set the world straight - and if that is the case, an article or short post establishing your premise would probably have been more effective, in my assesment.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Paul Kovach's picture

Quote:
After reading everything you've said, I'm not really sure what your point was in asking the question. You've drawn your conclusion, and seem to be looking for those who would agree with what you planned to say, and taking exception to those who disagree. It's not a big deal to me either way how this thread goes, but again, it seems to me that the way you are responding to those who don't immediately accept your premise makes it difficult to understand why you asked the question in the first place, unless you were just looking to set the world straight - and if that is the case, an article or short post establishing your premise would probably have been more effective, in my assesment.

Ok...so people who write articles are trying to set the world strait....Hmm...be sure to let the contributors to SI know that, Greg.

I have really drawn no conclusions or have any premises. The purpose was to generate discussion, not a theological debate. As I stated, I am just listing my observations. I think there is a greater issue with people who desire to call into question the motives behind such a simple question and then theologize it. There is no Biblical command for living arrangements of a pastor which is why i was interested in finding what people think, which in itself is a call for opinion. If there are Biblical examples..great...list those as well.

Well, I have spent enough time on this already and there seems to be very few actual individual interested. I'm going soul winning....good day gents.

Paul Kovach Missionary to BRAZIL http://www.kovachministries.com

Greg Linscott's picture

I do think that people who write for SI- for that matter, people in general who write- are proposing and promoting ideas they believe to be correct, and often will make observations that critique or correct thinking that opposes their idea. There is nothing wrong with that.

However, if you want to generate discussion on a topic like this (where you acknowledge there is no precise Biblical mandate one way or another), I am saying the best way to do that is propose your ideas first, not mask them behind questions that make it appear you are still seeking conclusions. Feel free to disagree- I don't have all the answers- but your responses haven't communicated much distinction between what you call your observations and what I would read as conclusions you have drawn based on what you have seen.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Paul Kovach's picture

This is the bad thing about smart phones...even while I am out and I think about something and don't have to wait till I am home.

Quote:
looking for those who would agree with what you planned to say, and taking exception to those who disagree.

This was the most laughable statement I have seen in a long time. You do the exact same thing....in fact, everybody does. You agree with those who agree with you and disagree with those who do not. I had a prof. who who once made the statement that he always thought he was right. It was kinda cute because it is true of all of us. We all hold potions because we think we are right, else it would be antithetical to hold them. It felt good to have something on SI to chuckle at, but that gorilla dust just wont fly on that one. Smile
The problem with you line of reasoning however is that I have not drawn any conclusion and therefore and not looking for anyone to agree with. Sorry to disappoint.

Paul Kovach Missionary to BRAZIL http://www.kovachministries.com

Paul Kovach's picture

The inquiry was in the poll. In post 31, I bring up points for both sides of the issue...sorry, more dust.
Oh well...I think some people take things like this simple discussion too personally because they themselves are either living near or distant from their church and feel threatened by someone who feels different than they do (whether they admit it or not) and can't stick to the points of a discussion thus degrading a thread...lol.

Paul Kovach Missionary to BRAZIL http://www.kovachministries.com

Becky Petersen's picture

I think it is hard to reach a community if you aren't living there.

The problem is the definition of "living there" varies from place to place. We tried to work in an area here in Poland that was about 20-25 min. from our house. It wasn't working. Generally speaking, we weren't there visiting often enough to get people to come and people didn't want to drive that far to go to church. What I have noticed is this though...People generally will drive from a rural area to a city to go to a church but rarely the other way around. So, for us to ask people to go from the Warsaw area to drive out of town 25 min...it just didn't work.

Anyway, I'm sure there are exceptions. I heard of men who were pastoring churches while teaching at BJU. That seemed so strange to me when they were 120 miles from their church--they were only there on the weekends. It seems a little LESS strange to me now that I've run into churches (brethren) that use laymen a lot more than churches that I grew up in, etc I just know that unless you spend a lot of time on the road, you can't really do too much while pastoring from that distance.

But most of it depends on the exact demographics of the area. You can be 30 min. away from church and be only a few miles from it, if the traffic is bad. Or 30 min. may be 30 miles.

Generally I'd agree with Greg L. here. It is harder to pastor from a distance. I am not sure how anyone can even dispute that statement. Whether or not you are effective will depend on your gifts, the readiness of the people, the working of the Holy Spirit, etc.

pastorwesh's picture

Wow,

It looks like more time is spent clarifying one's position, and coming up with a quote box inside of a quote box inside of a quote box inside of a quote box inside of a quote box inside of a quote box inside of a quote box inside of a quote box inside of a quote box inside of a quote box inside of a quote box inside of a quote box inside of a quote box inside of a quote box inside of a quote box!

Let's sweeten the spirit a little guys!

Serving the Savior, Pastor Wes Helfenbein 2 Cor. 5:17

Becky Petersen's picture

pastorwesh wrote:
Wow,

It looks like more time is spent clarifying one's position, and coming up with a quote box inside of a quote box inside of a quote box inside of a quote box inside of a quote box inside of a quote box inside of a quote box inside of a quote box inside of a quote box inside of a quote box inside of a quote box inside of a quote box inside of a quote box inside of a quote box inside of a quote box!

Surely you exaggerate???

Smile Written with a very sweet spirit, BTW.

I'm curious as this particular thread really isn't very vitriolic, nor are there very many quotes in a quote. What are you getting at?

pastorwesh's picture

You know, Becky, you're right. I guess I was referring to quotes #30 and #35. However, I read the whole thread in one setting, and my initial reaction was, "It seems like people are more interested in trying to catch people in their words, than they are about understanding where the other is coming from." Maybe my rebuke was unwarrented. I just found the topic to be of interest b/c I'm moving to an Urban ministry this week, and I was hoping for a little more contribution to the actual topic, instead of the "I said" no "You said" no "I said" stuff. :0)

Anyway, hope that helps.

Serving the Savior, Pastor Wes Helfenbein 2 Cor. 5:17